And I’m (still) Celebrating

Can you believe it’s been two years? 

Two whole years.

On one hand it seems like nothing. Just a blink. On the other, so much has changed. 

Today, I woke up grateful. 

Grateful that two years ago you decided to leave me. 

I knew when I met you that you would change my life, but I had no idea what that would look like. 

But you did. 

You changed everything. 

And I am so grateful. 

It’s funny, but I look forward to this day. I take it all in. 

And then you know what I do next? 

I celebrate. 

I celebrate all of it. 

The high’s. The low’s. The times when I wasn’t sure how I was going to get back up. And the times I never thought I’d come back down. 

You have given me an opportunity to grow and to find compassion in places I thought impossible. 

Without even knowing it, you have taught me grace. 

I have grown closer to Him. Setting an example to our kids that it is easier to love than to hate. 

I won’t lie and say it’s been easy. It hasn’t. But it’s been worth it. 

So, today I’m gonna celebrate. 

Still. 

Date Night

I took myself on a date last night. 

Just me.

And you want to know something? 

It was perfect. 

Perfect because I didn’t have to worry about what I was going to wear. 

Perfect because I could just be without worrying about trying to make an impression.

Perfect because I didn’t have to worry about anything.

Not even finding a babysitter. 

I bought myself flowers. 

And the biggest steak I could find. 

I lit a candle. You know, to set the mood.

I poured myself a glass of wine. 

It was quiet. 

And amazing. 

I got to eat as much as I wanted. And have an extra glass of wine without anyone judging me.

I got to be comfortable. Not just because I was wearing my pajamas, but because I got to be me. 

For dessert I had cheesecake. 

And realized that I should probably order dessert more when I’m on dates. 

I got to listen to music. 

Read a little of my new book. 

And not wonder if the guy across from me was going to call me the next day. 

Because I don’t know about you, but dating sucks. 

I remember shortly after Justin left that I finally felt ready to start dating. I was naive enough to think that dating would be this amazingly fun thing that I got to do now. The silver lining of a very dark cloud. 

I looked forward to those first dates. The ones where your stomach found itself in knots because this could be it. This could be your last first date ever. 

Turns out, not only am I completely naive, but I am also a hopeless romantic. 

And while I won’t say all of my dates have been a bust, I will say it’s exhausting. And it can drive a girl crazy. 

But most of all, it can make you lose sight of what’s important. 

So I took myself on a date. 

My kids looked at me like I was crazy. 

‘But who’s going to have dinner with you?’ ‘Wait, so you’re just going to be alone?’ ‘Mom, that’s sad.’ 

Maybe it is. Maybe this is just me being naive again. 

Do I wish there had been someone else to cook for? Absolutely.

Do I wish there had been two wine glasses to put in the dishwasher at the end of the night? Of course. 

But there is something so empowering learning to accept that there might only be dinner for one. And there might only be one wine glass. 

And that’s okay. 

I’d be lying if I said I hope that’s what happens. I don’t. I want someone looking at me from across the table. I want the romance. 

I want the happy ending.

I also wouldn’t mind help with the dishes. ;) 

But what I’ve learned over these last few months is that I don’t just want anyone there. 

I’m letting Him choose. 

And so for right now the other seats are empty. 

And that’s okay. 

Because I took myself on a date last night. 

And between us? I think I might ask for a second. 

Threat

I see how you look at me. Don’t think I don’t notice,  because I do. 

I’m a threat to you. I get it.

Because when you look at me, you see yourself.

Because you can’t quite figure it out. What did I do wrong?

Because from the outside we had it all. Just like you.

Because we appeared to be happy. ‘Was she faking the whole time?’

Because if it were that bad she would have left, right? 

Because I make you uncomfortable. 

Because it just doesn’t make sense. 

Because it just looks too familiar. 

So you keep me at a distance. 

Because you want to believe that it can’t be you. It could never be you.

Because you’re happy. And because you love eachother. And because you would never get a divorce. 

Because that only happens to people like me. 

Because it just doesn’t happen to people like you. 

At least, that’s what you tell yourself. 

And so I see how you look at me. 

Because I used to have the same look on my face too. 

It Had to End

Earlier this week, when I found myself on the phone talking to my ex there was something different about him.

It wasn’t that we were getting along. It wasn’t that he was finally saying all the things I had wished he had been saying. But it was that he was happy.

He was actually happy.

It had been a long time since I had heard him be that happy. I honestly can’t remember making him that happy in our marriage. I’m sure I did at some point, but he was genuinely happy. 

And it was because of her. 

I know that’s weird of me to talk about, but it was. 

It was her. 

He talked about her and you could hear the smile in his voice. 

I thought I would be upset. That it would hurt. Knowing that it wasn’t me who made him happy, but I realized that wasn’t my job. 

Let me explain.

Did I love my ex? Of course I did, but it was a specific kind of love. 

Oh, I thought we would be together forever. I had invested 10 years of my life into that relationship only to have it end through a text. I spent days and weeks and months analyzing everything I did leading up to that moment. Trying to figure it all out, but I couldn’t.

Until I heard how happy he was.

I know some people get into a relationship that ends and they can’t understand it. They can’t help but claim that it was a waste of their time. 

But I don’t believe that. 

Even though it didn’t work out the way I thought it would, I think it’s better. I think it served it’s purpose. 

Yes, my marriage ended. Yes, it was sad. But look at what has happened because of that. 

And I don’t think it was a waste of time. I think it did what it was supposed to do.

You guys, not only is my ex happy, but I am. I have found this man who is unlike anything I’ve ever known. 

Do I wish I had found him sooner? Of course. I’m crazy about him and now that he’s in my life, I can’t imagine a second without him. 

But the timing was perfect. 

Because not only has God given me an amazing guy, but He made sure to give me my amazing kids. And without my ex, they wouldn’t be here. 

I had to ‘waste that time’ so I could have them. 

Hard to be upset at that, especially as I sit here writing this watching them play on the couch. 

My ex wasn’t the love of my life. And I wasn’t the love of his life either. But what our temporary love did was give me two of the greatest joys I could ever have. 

And who knows, maybe it’s even introduced me to the love of my life. 

Sometimes it can be hard to understand God’s plan. Sometimes it’s hard to think that anything good can come from something that hurt so bad. But you guys, that’s when you go back to my favorite verse of all times and you read it, over and over and over again. 

“In all things, God works for the good of those who love him.” Romans 8:28

Because had my marriage not ended. I would be miserable. Had my marriage not ended I never would have learned to fall in love with myself. Had my marriage not ended I never would have met the man who has swept me off my feet. Had the marriage not ended I never would have understood the point of it all. 

So see? It had to end. 

Because how else would we have known how to be so happy? 

3 For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:

 2 a time to be born, and a time to die;

a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;

 3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;

a time to break down, and a time to build up;

 4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;

a time to mourn, and a time to dance;

 5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;

a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;

 6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;

a time to keep, and a time to cast away;

 7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;

a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

 8 a time to love, and a time to hate;

a time for war, and a time for peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

And I’m Celebrating

I thought about this day for a long time. A whole year to be exact. 

I thought about where I would be. What my life would like. If I would be okay. 

I never imagined you would actually leave me, not for good anyways. I got pretty used to you always walking out, but the thing was, you’d always walk back in. 

I have to be honest, I’m having a hard time knowing that you’re spending the day, my wedding anniversary, with another woman. 

This isn’t a plea to get you back. And I don’t hate her, despite what you might think, but this was our day. 

For 5 years it was our day. It was the one day where we both remembered how much we loved each other. Where we would forget how much we hurt each other. It was the one day where we could start over and get back to the basics. Back to what made us, us. 

But now, well, now it’s my day. 

I can still remember the way I felt walking down the ‘aisle’ to you. The way I felt when our eyes finally met. I don’t think I’ll ever forget that feeling. I just knew this was it. 

And then it wasn’t. 

I had convinced myself that I couldn’t live without you. That I needed you. That I wasn’t enough. And I never would be. 

But then I was. 

Because this year has been the best year of my life. Because this year I learned to do it on my own. Well, with His help, of course. This year I did things I never imagined. 

Things you told me I would never do. 

Things I told myself I could never do. 

So today, instead of crying or being angry or being sad. Today I choose happy. 

I might not be celebrating our anniversary. But that doesn’t mean I can’t still celebrate. 

And so, today, I’m choosing to celebrate me. 

Because this day doesn’t have to be a bad one. Because I don’t have a single regret about any of it. Not even driving back 18 hours just to have you walk out for good. 

Because, if anything, this past year has taught me that I am a fighter. And I am faithful. And that I loved you with every fiber of my being. And so I have no regrets. 

But now, instead of loving you, I get to love myself. 

So today is my day. 

And I’m celebrating. 

The Gift

Oh, Facebook. You and your memories.

Today, you reminded me that 6 years ago it was ‘one month till I was a Mrs.’ Now I look at the calendar and remind myself that it’s one month until I celebrate a year that my husband left me.

Yes, celebrate.

Because you see, I am no longer sad, not most days, anyways. It still hurts sometimes. Sometimes I still wonder why it had to happen, but as I sat there and read that reminder I realized I just had no idea.

I had no idea how good life could be. I thought that by marrying my husband, that was it. That was as good as life could be. What I didn’t realize is that I was settling.

Oh gracious, was I settling.

I was also giving up responsibility. I had decided that by marrying my husband that it was suddenly his responsibility to make me happy.

Only his responsibility.

What I didn’t know is that I would be the only one who could do that.

Now I know.

I also know that I wasn’t being fair to my husband. I set him up for failure.

I set us up for failure.

But I’m done being upset about it. It happened. It was never just one of us either. So before you take sides, know that I was just as guilty as he was.

So now, I’m just sitting here. It’s a quiet Saturday morning. I’ve got a hot cup of coffee and a good book to keep me company while the kids sleep and Facebook does a good job of reminding me of the life I used to live.

I reflected back for a minute on a what a Saturday morning would look like while we were married. Usually, I would wake up to discover my husband had not come home that night. At first, I would cry. I would try to call or text.

But then I stopped caring.

I would wake up to find that he had not come home and I would just sit in the silence, knowing that I was miserable, but also knowing I didn’t have a clue how to change that.

Now I know.

And so that’s what I’ll be reminded of when Facebook decides to share those memories with me. Now I’ll remind myself that I know exactly how to make myself happy. Now I know how to take care of myself. And now I know that I’m the only one who can do those things.

What a gift, right? Yeah, I think so too.

You Wouldn’t Recognize Her. 

I just picked out the dates in October for a second vacation. I decided I don’t want to be here when our wedding anniversary turned the day you left me comes around. And so I picked somewhere warm. Somewhere I could escape for just a little bit because I already know, it’s gonna be a real doozy.

Can you believe it’s almost been a year?

Don’t misunderstand. I’m still happy you left. Now that I see the bigger picture, I get it. It had to happen. If only you could see who I’ve become since you left. You wouldn’t recognize her.

She’s nothing like the girl you knew.

She’s strong. She’s determined. She’s unafraid. She refuses to settle. And she sticks up for herself.

She’s beautiful too. She learned to take care of herself. To put her wants and needs above everyone else’s. And she’s better for it.

She’s strong. She’s fierce. She’s everything she wasn’t before.

Something tells me you wouldn’t have left her.

So you see, it’s better now. It’s better than she could have ever imagined. She’s finally happy. Did you ever think that would happen?

Remember how miserable she was? How many nights she spent crying over you. How many mornings she would wake up with swollen eyes lying to her kids that everything was fine.

But then she has these moments where she really doesn’t get it at all. Where she wonders why you didn’t fight harder for her. Especially when you promised you would.

And then she’s happy that you didn’t. She’s happy because she has figured out how to be happy on her own.

She’s happy for you too. She still sticks up for you. She always did. She doesn’t let people put you down, but she doesn’t manipulate the truth anymore either. The funny thing is she finally loves you unconditionally. The way she probably should have loved you when you were married. The way she couldn’t because she had to learn to love herself first. But she does. She finally loves you for you.

She may start to wonder why it didn’t work. And she still gets sad sometimes when she thinks about it, I mean, she did spend 10 years with you and more than missing her husband, I think she misses her best friend, but she finally realizes that you both did the best you could.

And that’s good enough for her.

So she moves on. She comes back to the present. She takes a deep breath and she looks at the life she has made. And just like that she’s happy again. She’s the happiest she’s ever been.

See, I told you, you wouldn’t recognize her.

Because This Time it’s Different

I can’t get over how different it all feels this time. 

Y’all, it’s kind of amazing.

I’m finishing up packing. Getting things ready to hit the road back home to North Carolina. Washing, folding, packing. 

Organizing. Or my pathetic attempt at such. 

It has been an amazing 3+ weeks. I have rested. I have been restored. And I am renergized. 

It was exactly what I needed. 

It’s been a lot like before when I took long vacations, except there’s something very different. 

Do you know how long it’s been since I’ve gone home feeling wanted? 

Oh boy. 

I remember dreading going home. Afraid of going home. Because I knew how much he didn’t want me there. Because I knew how much he wished I’d stay. 

I remember going home thinking it was going to be different. That the time away was going to be exactly what we needed. That when I got out of the car or off the plane, he would see me and remember just how much he loved me, but it never worked out that way. 

I would be welcomed with empty stares. I would have to ask for a kiss. My attempt at trying. He would half hug me as if I was the last thing he wanted to see, probably because I was. 

Not this time, though. 

This time I’m wanted. This time he wished I never had left. This time I’m missed. 

This time it’s so different. 

This time I’m not scared. This time I’m excited to come home. Because this time I didn’t run away. 

Because this time it’s different. 

And while I used to be scared of ‘different’ and scared of ‘change’, I’ve realized that this entire season of my life is just that. It’s all different. 

And y’all, different is good. Different is so good. 

Don’t get me wrong, I’m still scared. Most days, I’m still scared, but along with being scared, comes trust. 

Because I’m learning to trust others. I’m learning to trust Him. But more than that, I’m finally learning to trust myself. 

Turns out that when I trust myself enough to trust Him completely, it just works. Things just work. And it’s all different. 

And y’all, different is so good. 

Because I know that when I get home there isn’t going to be any half hugs. I know that when I come home it won’t be just me going in for the kiss. Because I know when I come home, I’m going to be the only thing he wants to see. 

Because this time it’s different. 

And thank goodness, it’s different. 

XXOO

Somewhere Else

You should have been here. 

Who knew divorce could be so emotional? Between us, I’m tired. I’m so tired of feeling things because of you. 

And I’m tired of having no one to talk to about it. Because that was you. You were my person. You were the one I could talk to, even if you never listened. I could talk. 

Now, I just sit here. Having conversations with myself. 

You should have been here. Your absence was a constant reminder that everything I knew was no longer. 

The truth is, you should have been here because this was our celebration. This was something we did. Not just me. We did it. We made her. 

This was our day, too. 

But instead, I was here and you were somewhere else. 

Instead, I was here defending you and, well, you were somewhere else.

Because people just don’t get it. Most days, I don’t even get it. But I know you’re not well. You may argue with me, but someone who is well, doesn’t just walk out on their entire family, so no, you aren’t well. 

And perhaps, I’m the only one who can see that. I don’t even think you see it. But I see it and I just feel so sorry for you. Because you should have been here, but instead you were somewhere else. 

You should have been here. And I shouldn’t have to defend you. You should have been here because that’s what you promised me. 

Because you swore to me that you would love me no matter what. 

But instead, I was here and you were somewhere else. 

Birthdays

Hard to believe my baby is 3 years old. I have so many emotions going through me, right now. 

I don’t even know where to begin. 

I can’t help but think of where we were last year. What we were doing. Usually, the memories are good, but last year, well, last year my husband and I were separated. 

I knew my marriage would be restored. I had held on to the faith that it would be and it was actually at Adelaide’s birthday party where we decided to give it another shot. He would move back in just a few days later. 

The year before that we had been fighting constantly. The kids and I were getting ready to take a vacation without daddy. For 3 weeks I would run away to my grandparents’ house until I felt like my husband wanted us back. 

I’m not sure that he ever did. 

It would be just a few months later that I would find out my husband had been cheating on me. He cheated on me even while I was gone. Swearing every night that he wasn’t. I should have believed myself, but I let him convince me that I was just being a crazy girl. 

I can still feel the raw pain of finding out that he had been unfaithful. I still cry when I think about just like I am right now. 

He broke me. 

He made me unable to trust others, myself included. 

Yes, I am on the path to recovery, but I’ve still got a long way to go. I am still hurt. And here we are celebrating another birthday without him. 

I wish I knew how to describe what I’m feeling, but even with my extensive vocabulary, it’s lacking. 

Hopefully, next year when I’m thinking about my baby being 4, I’ll reflect back on this day and witness just how far I’ve come.

Maybe birthdays witbout him will just get easier. 

Maybe.